I come from a teacher family.
My mom is a teacher, my dad was a teacher, my tia (aunt) is a teacher, and my sister is a teacher. For a large portion of my early life, I even thought I was going to be a teacher myself when I grew up. But then my sister slapped me upside the head (figuratively speaking) and made me realize that I was more passionate about writing than teaching, so now here we are.
Anyway, the reason I’m telling you this is so you know I have an abiding respect for the teaching profession. I know about the trials teachers have to endure on a daily basis. I think teachers are severely underappreciated for what they give to society as a whole. I know what things are like from a teacher’s perspective.
So when I say my college creative writing class sucked eggs, you know I’m not being irrational and biased against my teacher or something like that. I am aware that there is a person behind the profession.
Maybe the awfulness of that class hit me especially hard because of how much I had been looking forward to it. I had never taken a creative writing class before. From the very title of the course, it sounded like something right up my alley. I went into that class feckin’ eager to learn. I didn’t need to take the creative writing class; I wanted to take it.
Knowing how much I adore writing, you can all probably imagine my disappointment when it turned out less than perfect.
Never have I been so goddamned bored in a class.
My teacher, who I shall call the Sedate Droner, had the most pedantic tone of voice I have ever heard a person use. Even when he expressed enthusiasm for a topic, which felt rare, I had to study his expression more closely than a Where’s Waldo page in order to discern the slightest hints of excitement.
I think his eyes had an inability to light up with joy.
For Harry Potter fans out there, he was basically Professor Binns.
The Sedate Droner decided to start off the semester with poetry. He had a fondness for modern poetry, especially the kind that does not have a set rhyme scheme. Free-form poetry was his jam.
Now, I don’t have a problem with that normally, but he would spend hours trying to dissect these poems, line by line. Again, I normally don’t have a problem with examining the nuances of poetry. But if you’re taking up to three hours analyzing a single poem (without contribution from other people), a poem can lose its sweetness.
The Sedate Droner also had a tendency to answer his own questions. He would pose a query to the entire class, and when no one was particularly forthcoming, as lax/nervous college-age students tend not to be, he would provide an answer himself. The class consisted of awkward pauses as the Sedate Droner waited for someone to speak before eventually supplying his own ponderous response.
When we eventually did move on to writing short stories, something I had been looking forward to doing in an academic setting for the longest time, it was more of the same. The only difference this time around was that instead of going over contemporary poems, we analyzed our own works.
Nothing spices up a class like having students read their own work out loud.
I never felt so morose about being creative than when I was in that class. I got so bored, I started making up little games to keep myself occupied during class. I called one of them the Jurassic Park Game. If one of my desk mates had a bottle of water on their desk, I would tap my foot against the legs of the desk rhythmically, causing the water in the bottle to tremble a la Jurassic Park’s T. Rex footsteps.
But in a strange way, that class did prepare me for writing in the work place. There have been times when writing has felt like an absolute drudgery to me, but thanks to this creative writing class from hell, I am able to power through it.
I was steeped in the boredom of that class, tempered by the fires of apathy, struck with ennui until I was perfectly formed to withstand the writing-malaise later on.
Because while I may have a passion for writing, it’s still work. I’ve always kind of hated it when people say, “If you love what you’ll do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I know what they’re trying to say. But they’re wrong. Even if you love what you do, there will be days where it takes a lot of energy out of you or when you just don’t want to do it.
But if you love it, you’ll come back to it.